Summer Food-Inspired Saskatchewan Road trips
Who doesn’t enjoy a good summer road trip; windows down, music blaring and nothing but the open road and vast prairie skies to take in?
Saskatchewan is a great place to get off Canada’s well-travelled tourist trails. We’ve got hidden gems galore, with plenty of tasty stops along the way. If you’re a fan of local food and farmgate stores, micro-distilleries, artisanal shops or experiential dining, you’ll find it all in Saskatchewan.
Read on for a Must Do Saskatchewan touring guide!
Saskatchewan is flat out delicious!
It’s all based on the stories in my new book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Definitive Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans.
Table of Contents
Where to Eat in Southwest Saskatchewan
Harvest Eatery | Shaunavon
Saskatchewan’s southwestern region is ruggedly beautiful and diverse – and in the middle of the region, the town of Shaunavon has got it going on.
Apart from being the home of country music’s The Hunter Brothers, the southwestern town is a Saskatchewan culinary destination.
Husband and wife duo chef Garret “Rusty” and Kristy Thienes opened Harvest Eatery in 2013, a welcoming place where they offer an eclectic mix of sustainable Saskatchewan comfort food.
“We know who’s growing the food, how they’re taking care of it, what their methods are. That is what’s going to keep the restaurant (and our food system) functioning,” said Rusty.
Think roasted carrots with pulses, bison tartare, wild boar ravioli and Lake Diefenbaker trout gravlax with a wine list to match any discerning palate.
The coolest thing about this restaurant is that you’ll feel equally home if you show up in jeans or high heels.
Where to Eat in Southeast Saskatchewan
The Grotto | Vibank, Saskatchewan
Several of Saskatchewan’s best-hidden restaurant gems are in the southeastern region. The Happy Nun is in Forget and Carnduff is home to the Olive Branch Bistro. Find authentic Neapolitan pizza in Ogema at Solo Italia.
The Grotto is perhaps Saskatchewan’s most unique restaurant – and it’s one of the best places to eat authentic, homemade Mexican food.
Kevin and Cecilia Zimmerman own the lively little spot located inside a former Ursuline convent built in 1923. Much of the history has been preserved, including the altar area in the former chapel, which now houses the main dining room.
The original grotto is behind the building in an area where Cecilia keeps garden boxes, brimming with fresh produce and herbs.
Both are self-taught culinary wizards. Cecilia honed her skills after moving to Vibank with Kevin. She was missing Oaxacan food, the region where she grew up in southern Mexico.
She went back, learning the recipes and tricks of the trade from people in small communities. And those authentic tastes are what she brings to The Grotto.
The Grotto is open Saturday nights for Cecilia’s Mexican dinners and Fridays for Kevin’s southern BBB feasts.
Reservations generally need to be made weeks in advance, as there’s just one seating per night. Trust me; it’s worth the wait and worth the drive.
“We’re just cooking for who’s coming, so it’s personal,” said Kevin.
Where to Eat in Moose Jaw
If urban life has made you a bit disconnected from agriculture, Nadine Lee has a solution.
Nadine has devoted the last decade of her life to making partnerships between urban dwellers and those producing food using holistic practices. In so doing, she’s also helping small-scale farmers become economically viable.
“Food is a really great way for people to get back their connection that we’ve really been separated from,” she said.
Nadine and her partner Michael Neuman operate the Wandering Market, Moose Jaw’s first local food hub.
Farmers and food producers can sell or trade their products to the Wandering Market, which does the marketing work and resells to the public.
Find seasonal produce, meat, eggs, dairy items, bread, baking, preserves, tea, coffee, noodles, raw honey, grains and pulses, along with Nadine’s kimchi and sauerkraut at the market.
Where to Eat in Regina
The Creek in Cathedral’s executive chef Ricardo Rodriguez hails from Patagonia, on the southern tip of Argentina, and brings a South American flair and flavour to the bistro.
He’s lived in Saskatchewan since 2001 and during that time, has fallen in love with local ingredients.
“We can bring in everything from around the world but what makes us special is our own prairie products.”
The Creek is one of few farm-to-table restaurants in the province. Owner Jasmine Godenir and her parents both grow large gardens for the bistro.
Tim and Carla Shultz had a dream for a more accessible local food system in southern Saskatchewan.
Their goal – to bring a farmers’ market to people through an online platform – expanded in 2019 when they opened The Local Market in Regina’s warehouse district.
“It was a vision for a better market for producers,” said Tim. “We felt there was a place to create a platform for producers to market their products, to help them elevate their business and let producers focus on producing.”
It was also a way to bring together local food options and make it easy for year-round consumer access. Products from over 100 Saskatchewan food producers and artisans are available in the store and through the Local & Fresh online platform.
The Local Market includes a commercial kitchen for chefs to host pop-up events and is home to the Everyday Kitchen with their gourmet donuts and excellent coffee.
Looking for more? Check out our guide to the best things to do in Regina!
Where to Eat in Saskatoon
True farm-to-table restaurants, backed by a farmer, aren’t common anywhere. Farming and owning a restaurant are both risky ventures, with little certainty and often slim profit margins.
At Saskatoon’s Odla, executive chef Scott Dicks explains the experience: “We want you to feel like you’re coming over to our place and we’re entertaining you.”
Part of the entertainment is savouring Odla’s farm ties. Farm One Forty, a small-scale holistic operation outside Saskatoon raises pastured chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle, and owns the restaurant along with Scott and sommelier/general manager Lacey Sellinger.
The Odla experience is a mix between a tasting menu (but without pretentiousness), and family-style dining. It’s all about reconnecting with Saskatchewan’s food system – through ingredients from Farm One Forty and Odla’s other producers.
“We want to share all the things we’ve been doing, the beautiful ingredients we get from local farmers and the beautiful meat from Farm One Forty,” said Scott.
Watch Farm One Forty’s website for on-farm dinner events and tours throughout the summer.
You may wonder if you’ve been transported to a European agritourism destination when you drive up the lane to Black Fox Farm & Distillery as rolling hills of apple orchards and flower fields appear.
Black Fox has been giving other micro-distilleries a run for their money since launching in 2015. The handcrafted, single batch spirits are some of the most sustainably made – and delicious – in Canada.
Owners John Cote and Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote’s hyper-local approach means most every ingredient used in the distillation process comes from their own farm just minutes south of Saskatoon. Sipping Black Fox spirits, like the oaked gin (which won the “World’s Best at the World Gin Awards), haskap or mustard gin is a true taste of Saskatchewan terroir. Be sure to take your cocktail out to the flower fields and enjoy the view.
On the short drive out to the distillery, plan to stop at the corner of Avenue H and 16th St. W in Saskatoon.
Grab a sourdough doughnut at Darkside Donuts or a scoop of handcrafted ice cream at Fable Ice Cream. Head around the corner if you want something heartier at Gangsters Italian Sandwiches, then scope out all the local food treasures at the Little Market Box.
Looking for more? Check out our guide to the best things to do in Saskatoon!
Where to Eat in Northern Saskatchewan
Yellowfender Coffeehouse and Eatery | Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan
Heidi O’ Brodovich learned everything she needed to know about cooking from her mom Connie Freedy.
Connie grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan and also raised her children on a farm, teaching Heidi baking and pickling, and taking her to pick wild berries.
Then, in 1979, the family moved to southern France for a year when Heidi was 10. Connie and her partner were both avid painters; the family studied art history and of course, fell in love with French culture and food.
“In France, so much is about the taste and presentation of the food and the ceremony of eating,” recalled Connie.
She and Connie opened the Yellow Fender Coffeehouse and Eatery in Christopher Lake in 2004.
Along with lunch and breakfast items featuring ingredients sourced from area gardeners, farmers and fisheries, the cafe also sells a variety of homemade baking, French bread, custom pastries and cakes.
All photos by Richard Marjan.
Jenn Sharp’s first book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Definitive Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans, is available now at independent bookstores and at local food retailers and farmgate stores throughout Saskatchewan, along with Chapters and Amazon. Follow her on Twitter @JennKSharp, Instagram @flatoutfoodsk and Facebook: facebook.com/flatoutfoodsk.
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